Chennai Superstarz didn't seem to miss world No. 10 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy as its dominance in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) season five continued with a 4-3 victory over Mumbai Rockets in front of its home crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.
Ahead of the side's second tie of the season, the big news was Indian doubles star Satwik sitting out due to an ankle sprain he had sustained in Chennai's 5-2 win against Hyderabad Hunters in the season opener - the team management calling the decision to rest Satwik a precaution.
As it happened |PBL Season 5, highlights: Chennai Superstarz 5-3 Mumbai Rockets
The home team's Tommy Sugiarto took on Parupalli Kashyap in the most-awaited encounter of the tie with the Superstarz already holding a 2-0 overall lead. This being Chennai's trump match, a loss and a minus point would have hurt the side's chances. However, Sugiarto came to the fore after losing a very close opener on the deciding point.
The Indonesian world No. 21 got the better of his Indian opponent, who is ranked 25 in the world, by returning well in a clash marred by a number of unforced errors from both sides of the net. In the second and third game, Sugiarto looked effortless as he overcame Kashyap in a thriller in which the final scores read 14-15, 15-10, 15-7.
The mixed doubles was the first encounter of the tie for the third consecutive night. Dhruv Kapila, 19, who had earlier replaced the injured Manu Attri in the Superstarz squad before the start of the season, took Satwik's place in both mixed and men's doubles against Mumbai and he immediately made an impact.
Dhruv partnered Jessica Pugh to beat Kim Gi Jung of South Korea and Indonesia's Pia Zebadiah, who had a match to forget. Throughout the match, the 19-year-old Chennai shuttler came up with some unplayable smashes and clever returns. Pugh complemented him well with intense netplay to give their opponents very little chance in a 15-10, 15-14 triumph.
After going the distance against Priyanshu Rajawat on Monday, Lakshya Sen kept it simple and led for most parts in the clash against South Korea's Lee Dong Keun in a straight-games victory. The match, which ended 15-12, 15-10 in Chennai's favour, was the first of two back-to-back men's singles outings on the night.
In Mumbai's trump match, the experienced Korean duo of Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang, who have won two men's doubles World Championships bronze together, got the better of Sumeeth Reddy and Dhruv of the Superstarz to reduce the deficit for their side.
Shreyanshi Pardeshi defeated Gayatri Gopichand 14-15, 15-5, 15-13 in the final match of the tie. This was a closely contested outing after which both the Indian youngsters received a huge round of applause.